I am sure I have written about Aikido a half a dozen times here before. I practiced for a year and half until I damaged my knee. I fell in the love with the art. In fact, I’m still in love, even though I no longer practice.
When I first stepped on to the mat to practice, like everyone else, I knew nothing. The movements are completely counterintuitive and foreign. It takes thousands of repetitions to get your body to cooperate. But your body isn’t the most difficult thing you have to retrain.
After some time on the mat, a number of san dan’s (high ranking black belts) cornered me to tell me I was hurting them. The idea in Aikido is that you get out of the way of force and redirect it. Instead, I was greeting force with greater force. I was anything but soft. This was a mindset problem.
The best Aikidoist’s are so soft that they literally disappear; you don’t even know they’re touching you as the force you bring is redirected and you are thrown through the air. They don’t greet your force with force. To change you, they change themselves. They step backwards and change direction.
And here is a metaphor worth adopting.
- If you want to change the response you receive from someone else, first change yourself.
- If you want to change the outcome of some interaction, first change the way you approach that interaction.
- If you want your prospective client to change their response to your pitch, start by changing yourself.
As Covey said, “If you think the problem is out there, that thought is the problem.”
Get Out of Your Own Way
For six months I practiced on the Aikido mat, frustrated that I couldn’t get my practice partners to do what I needed them to do. When I failed, I tried greater force. But the strong message from my black belt friends didn’t cause me to change and improve my technique. It was something else.
The dojo brought in a new class of students. They knew even less than I did. Practicing with them was very painful. Even though they didn’t mean to hurt me, their poor form and poorer understanding of the art made them dangerous to work with. Once I experienced what it felt like to work with them, I changed almost instantly. And my technique was immediately improved.
Think of someone you want to change? How do you change you to get that change from them?
What part of you needs to change for you to produce the better results you want?
Do you believe the problems is “out there?” Do you believe it is “them?” Does this belief empower you?